Rennie Curran might have thought he was still dreaming.
After all, not long before the Tennessee Titans’ rookie linebacker looked in his locker Monday afternoon and saw that he had been given a new jersey number – No. 53 – he actually was asleep.
“I took a nap and when I woke up, it was right here hanging up,” the third-round pick out of Georgia said. “The emotions came over me of joy and happiness.”
Curran accepted the number with a great deal of humility given the fact that for the last decade Keith Bulluck wore it. Bulluck’s contract expired after the 2009 season and he signed a free agent deal with the New York Giants just before the start of training camp.
“(Curran) was more than willing to do the best he could to carry on with the legacy because that number has been on our practice field and game field fairly consistently the last 10 years,” coach Jeff Fisher said.
Throughout offseason workouts and the first two days of training camp Curran wore No. 38. The team needed that number Monday when it signed a new defensive back to help bolster their depth at that spot.
Curran said he previously had asked the equipment staff about the No. 53 because it was the reverse of the No. 35 he wore in college.
“That was my main reason for getting it,” Curran said. “The thing about that number is that it’s more than a number – it’s a symbol. Just the legacy that (Bulluck) left is nothing that will ever be matched. The only thing I can do now is try to work hard and do great things on the field.”
Bulluck was the Titans’ first-round draft pick in 2000 and the team’s leading tackler in six of the last eight seasons. He made the Pro Bowl and was an All-Pro in 2003. He also was a two-time NFL Man of the Year nominee for his work through his Believe and Achieve Foundation.
“I thought about just how much of an honor it is and how much of a blessing it is to have that number because of how much he meant to the fans, how much he meant to the community and the legacy he left,” Curran said. “I just feel like, hey, this says a lot about what I can do if I work hard, and it says a lot abut how the coaches feel about me for giving me the privilege to wear this number. I’m going to do my best.”
• A FIFTH CORNER: With depth a cornerback quickly becoming an issue, the Titans signed free agent Pete Ittersagen. The second-year pro, who has spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts, was the choice after a morning workout of several candidates.
“Obviously, the earlier you get in, the better whether it’s OTAs or the third practice or whatever,” he said. “I’m behind … a little it in terms of knowing the defense but the coaches are helping me put the time in in the film room and helping me out there (on the field).”
Ittersagen was a three-time Division III All-American at Wheaton College, where she set the school record for career touchdowns on returns with nine (five punt, three interception, one kickoff).
“Typically we’re at least six maybe seven (cornerbacks) for training camp and we got down to four healthy ones so we just need the legs for the reps,” Fisher said. “… When the numbers start to go, they really go. If at all possible you want to avoid adjusting practice because of your numbers.
“… We worked out four or five corners (Monday morning) and he ended up being the best fit for us.”
Tennessee originally planned to have seven cornerbacks, but veteran Rod Hood sustained a season-ending knee injury and was played on injured reserve even before the start of camp. Free agent Tye Hill has been held back with a tender hamstring, and rookie cornerback Jamar Love started camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Love was waived to make room for Ittersagen.
• STARTING TO HIT: Monday’s workout was the first during which players wore shoulder pads. That allowed the offensive and defensive linemen, in particular, to go after each other with a little more vigor.
“It’s important for us to get in the pads and really get after it,” center Eugene Amano said. “… It was a good day as far as working all day, and it makes it more realistic as far as working against the defense.”
The intensity will increase Wednesday night. That’s when the players will be in full pads for the first time.